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Columbus State University

July 7, 2020 - Message from President Markwood

Good afternoon,

As another example of the ever-changing environment we are managing, yesterday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for managing COVID-19 related issues. The University System of Georgia also revised the regulations on the wearing of face coverings for all USG school institutions.

Among the changes from the CDC are its definitions of people who will need extra precaution due to age and underlying medical conditions. In response to those changes, the University System of Georgia is providing updated guidance for those eligible to seek alternate work arrangements if they fall into one of these categories, as well as for the required use of face coverings.

Updated USG Face Covering Guidance

Effective July 15, 2020, USG institutions will require all faculty, staff, students, service providers and visitors to wear an appropriate face covering while inside campus facilities/buildings where six-foot physical distancing may not always be possible. Face covering use will be in addition to and is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Face coverings are not required in a student’s own dorm room or suite, when alone in an enclosed office or study room, or in campus outdoor settings where physical distancing requirements are met. Anyone not using a face covering when required will be asked to wear one or must leave the area. Repeated refusal to comply with the requirement may result in disciplinary action through the applicable conduct code for students, faculty or staff. Reasonable accommodations may be made for those who are unable to wear a face covering for documented health reasons.

CSU will provide students and employees with reusable face masks upon return to campus during Stage 3 of our Return-to-Campus plan. Disposable masks remain available to employees required to be on campus until then if an employee does not have a mask of his/her own.

Updated CDC At-Risk Guidance

The CDC no longer gives a minimum age for those at risk. The USG will continue to use 65 as its measure for evaluating requests for alternate work arrangements. Individuals who are younger than 65 can provide documentation from a health care provider that their age is a determining factor for risk that should prevent them from working on campus as scheduled.

People with the following underlying medical conditions may request alternate work arrangements through the previously developed process:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

To request alternative work arrangements, contact your dean, department chair, supervisor or the Human Resources office (Venus Frank or Carole Clerie) to discuss your individual situation. If, after this discussion, it is determined that your situation may qualify for an accommodation, you will be directed to complete the USG Reasonable Accommodations Request Form. Human Resource staff will review the form and any supporting documentation, make a determination, and relay relevant information to your supervisor. From that point forward, HR's role is to facilitate the interactive dialogue process between you and your supervisor in order to ensure compliance with ADA regulations and any other relevant laws and policies.

For More Information

As new information is made available to us, we will pass it on to you. For updates, please visit our Return-to-Campus website for the latest information: https://www.columbusstate.edu/covid-response/.

And if you have any questions, please submit them through our portal: https://columbusstate.formstack.com/forms/returning_to_campus_ideas_and_questions.

I remain grateful to you for your patience and flexibility as we continue to navigate the unpredictability of the coronavirus crisis. Please continue to think of new ways to meet these seemingly unending challenges.

Thanks again for all you do for our students, our community, and for each other.

President Chris Markwood